Wednesday, April 16. 2008
Your comments on the proposals of Deacon Zarras, the comments of Mr. Causley, of Holy Trinity Cathedral or those of Fr. Burholt are welcome....
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"I promise that in all things I will always follow and obey the Holy Synod of Bishops"
Well I'm stunned! You mean to tell me this is what they vow? This is the vow Nikolai has said he will adamently defend and uphold? And Tikhon is sure showing his support these days for his brother bishops. The more that is revealed to me the more I am just stunned by all that has been and continues to go on. This is not CHURCH! How can anyone still profess that we have an obligation to follow and worse, to obey these men? I'm sorry, folks, these men are not spiritual fathers to me or anyone else. I don't feel any call whatsoever to follow them. Thank The Most Holy we do have some very fine priests who are indeed spiritual fathers to us!
#1 Unbelievable on 2008-04-16 15:43
What planet do you live on. Of course that is the vow they make. How can you be so stunned. Anything else you would like us to share in your unbelief???
The vow to the Synod is based on the premise that members of the Holy Synod are also being loyal to the brotherhood of their brothers and not trying to "deep six" a brother based on their own agendas.
If you believe that Job and Seraphim are so pure, then you will also believe that Nikolai is also unpure. Baloney. Herman, Nikolai, Job and Seraphim all have blood on their hands. None are anywhere close to being pillars of the examples of Orthodox bishops.
What is unbelievable is that people like you know so little about Orthodoxy but can use this site to scribble your ignorance.
(Editor's note: After reading your note, one has to wonder which is truly worse: concerned "ignorance" or your knowledgeable cynicism? Personally, it seems healthier to be shocked that there are some Bishops who treat their office as a princely fiefdom, operated on Machievallien principles, concerning power and position, than to live comfortably in the "knowledge" that such may be the case. The Bishops themselves are ripping the curtain down revealing their all-too-human weaknesses. Have a little mercy on those forced to watch the spectacle, anonymous.)
#1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-16 19:55
Please, unbelievable again. Was it not you and Dnc. Eric who decided to "rip the curtain" down and "reveal" the inner workings of the OCA? If the ignorant are now exposed it is because you have taken it upon yourself to use "the power of the internet" to change the course of the OCA. Don't pass the buck now and say the bishops are only doing it to themselves.
You have taken it upon yourself to be the commentator on the events of the day. If the "unbelievables" of the Church are hurt because you have ripped the curtain, I would ask, what is better, to let them work out their salvation in ignorance or now have the weakness and sinfulness of men heaped upon their ignorance to the point of despair? And yes, cynicism is a sinful by-product of the course you have opened.
We are strong enough to be able to navigate this current minefield but I wonder if those who are not as strong as us will survive?
You and I can't eliminate the suffering in the Church, in Alaska. Alaska has always suffered and it will continue to suffer, one way or another. But look at the saints it has produced and will produce. I DO NOT condone any suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Alaska or anywhere by their bishops, but I also know that suffering will always be part of the path that leads to salvation. There is simply no way to get around it, as much as that would be nice.
You shed a light on the weakness of men by opening this website. The weakness of men will not end even if you rip a million curtains with a million websites. No, what we are now about to once again experience this weekend, next week and next weekend is the only LIGHT that counts because of THAT curtain that was ripped in that temple on Holy Friday.
On to Jerusalem, Calvary, and the empty tomb, the beginning and the end of all things people of faith and truth ever need.
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 07:14
Anonymous - I cant take you seriously. Why dont you identify yourself and show a little courage? You rip Mark for devulging the TRUTH, the only thing that will save the OCA. I'm sorry, no one is going to sink into despair over the truth, if they have their eyes on Jesus Christ. This is not about covering up evil to protect someone's touchy, feely emotions. This about the judgments of God over the unrepentented sins committed by those appointed to safeguard and lead the flock. Only the truth will suffice and thank God we have someone who will give it to us straight and not a bunch of sugar coated lies.
#126.96.36.199 Rich Kendall on 2008-04-18 09:49
This is an addendum to my previous comment because a thought just struck me. Actually I turned on the news and saw the Catholic Pope and the thought hit me - papal infallibility! Now isn't that a thought that has sent chills up our spines for centuries! Isn't that a concept we just totally despise! Yet how many posts have tried to convince us of the absolute right and authority of a bishop and/or the synod! Then another thought hit me. Papal infallibility only applies to doctrine and has only been invoked twice but when we talk about episcopal authority we apply it across the board! It's supposed to include everything; not just matters of doctrine! We are such hypocrites! I can't picture any hierarch surrendering even the smallest amount of power to anyone for anything. Now that sure sounds like it goes far beyond infallibility!
#2 Addendum to Myself on 2008-04-16 16:35
Dear contributor: Welcome to the real world of Constantinian Byzantium.
The Emperor Constantine created precisely this situation in the "Oral Canons" that seems to govern so much of Orthodoxy. These "Oral Canons" were to support and protect in Office his appointees such as Pope Sylvester of Rome who were normatively liable to a Biblically-legitimate challenge from the last independent remnants of the NT Charism of Prophets who would challenge that appointment on the grounds of Unfitness for Office.
These "Oral canons" were used to devastating effect between the First and Second Councils where Arian bishops were maintained in Office by Arian Emperors through these "Oral Canons" in defiance of the witness from Orthodox Prophets who were sound in their Christology which is now recognised as Canonically Orthodox.
When there was no direct Imperial episcopal Appointment, corrupt and unworthy bishops successfully hid behind these "Oral Canons" and used them to stay in Office - often in defiance of any residual independent Charismatic Prophetic utterances.
What this crisis is clearly exposing is the sheer lack of "teeth" any genuinely NT Prophet has in this Constantinian "Oral Canon" environment to override and set aside any Canon, both Oral and Written where necessary to secure the effect of mind of God.
In the Frankish-Papal Latin West, this Constantinian "Oral Canon" tradition in this facet of church administration culminated in "Unam Sanctam" in which it was declared that it is altogether necessary for one's salvation to be in absolute and unqualified administrative (and spiritual) submission (without any interior mental reservation)to the Pontiff on the Tiber . . .
thus sidelining any and all genuine NT Prophet who would dare to presume to challenge both the Conclave that elected the Pope and ultimately the ruling Pope himself.
Interestingly, "Unam Sanctam" is still 'on-the-books' of Papal Rome! (Although these days, hardly ever invoked except with, for example, the likes of Fr. Curran, and Hans Kung and Sr. Lavinia Byrne).
"May God arise and His enemies be scattered".
- your unworthy and sinful servant John Battye.
You are forgetting one important issue. In Byzantium, an uncooperative bishop was all of a sudden mysteriously poisoned, murdered or banished. Even the in the Imperial Court, brother killed brother for power and position. Oh how I long for Byzantium!
#2.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 07:50
Dear "anonymous" Contributor,
Yes, I am all too sadly aware of the "time-honoured" poison-route. It seems that this was used to achieve removal - wait for it - of clergy who would not "co-operate" with a Constantinian environment and Constantinian principles.
In the Latin West, between the German Hildebrand and Sixtus IV, several Popes, and several hundred Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Vicars-General disappeared in this fashion and for this reason - cantarella was often the poison of preference.
However, I was trying to find a way around this conundrum in a Biblical and a charitable manner.
I would dearly love to believe that you "long for Byzantium" with tongue firmly planted in cheek - I hope you are not for real?!
A Constantinian Byzantium was the direct and unbroken continuation of the "4th Kingdom" of the Prophet Daniel's vision in Daniel 2. In its Hellenic dimension, it differed little from the Hellenism that was responsible for the Antiochus Epiphanes nightmare - whose overturning led to the Jewish Feast of Hanukkah; and whose martyrs were commemorated in the NT Canonical Book of Hebrews, chapter 11.
Christ's true Orthodoxy existed in parallel to the Constantinian Succession and was often in defiance of the official Erastianism that came out of the Imperial Palace.
I trust that this helps.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but I take it that you a member of the Orthodox Church. You will understand, then, why I ask you to provide us with writings of the holy fathers -- during or after the Byzantine period, including up to the present day -- that condemn the "Constantinian" legacy.
We certainly have testimony from plenty of holy men and women throughout time who directly disagree with your opinions.
Are you wiser than the saints, more clear-sighted, more knowledgeable about the will of God?
#2.1.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-04-18 16:55
St. Innocent over 150 years ago had the Bible and Orthodox services translated into various native Alaska tongues. He used his power as Patriarch of ALL Rusia and Moscow to do this. And so, that has how it has been in Alaska. Please forgive me for being so disrespective on this matter. But St. Innocent helped sow the strong roots of Orthodoxy in America as it is today.
Now we have Bishop Nicolai who comes to us from the lower 48. With disreguard to the customs and traditions of the past establish by this church bing here for 200 years. He means to change it to his own liking. I have Nicolai myself say that being Bishop in Alaska is different that rest of OCA. Because you are more remote and treat more like a Bishop. Whatever be the case, Bishop Nicolai wants to change all the work the Alaskan Saints have establish here. And for that, I pray for Mercy for all of us.
It is not good to Isidore in the position he is to have a substance abuse problem.
It is not right to Tonsure a Reader who is a register sex offender with convictions of child pornography and sex with under age children.
It is not right to deny people the right to pray to God in their own language. Because God hears our prays no matter how we pray from our rights.
Oh Saint Innocent, pray to Christ Our Lord for Mercy on your children in Alaska. And that the OCA Synod be enlighten by your wisdom to help your children in Alaska . To strengthen the church you so bodly defended.
#3 Innocent on 2008-04-16 17:45
In response to Monroe Cauley's letter saying, "It is time that the hierarchs support the victims of Bishop Nikolai's vindictiveness, Dr. Lydia Black and Fr. John Polson...".
Are OCA members aware that Bishop Nikolai and the clergy of Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak refused to give Dr. Lydia Black an Orthodox funeral after her repose last Spring?
A life-long Orthodox Christian and OCA parishioner, a wife and mother, Dr. Lydia's work in Native Alaskan Studies was highly esteemed throughout the academic world, and it was largely through her efforts that the field is now recognized internationally. After her retirement Dr. Lydia continued to work tirelessly as a volunteer for the Church, until her mistreatment at the hands of Bishop Nikolai.
After her repose last Spring, Alaskan OCA friends reported to me that Bishop Nikolai had refused to allow her an Orthodox funeral or burial in Alaska. Instead, a priest from another Orthodox jurisdiction stepped in to serve her funeral at the Lutheran Church in Kodiak.
Details of Dr. Lydia's funeral arrangements were posted by the Kodiak Daily Mirror after her repose: athttp://www.kodiakdailymirror.com/?pid=19&id=4480
Surely this was known throughout Alaska! Where were the Alaska priests then, who are speaking up now? Could not one OCA clergyman have spoken up to publicize this injustice (even anonymously)? Without a doubt the Synod of Bishops knew of the repose of one of the OCA's most well-respected members! They all knew about it.
Not one of them was worthy to bury this righteous woman.
But therein lies the problem. There can be NO one in Alaska that can be smarter, or know more, or be more popular than Nikolai. Its classic dictator behavior, not the behavior of a person who fosters and guides people into spiritual growth.
Lydia was too smart and, like Fr. Oleksa, eclipsing what Nikolai feels should be the light shining solely on him.
Isn't it also, just plain Christian behavior to bury the dead. Its not even just an Orthodox thing. Its base Christian behavior, and that, my friends, is what Nikolai lacks. He doesn't need canons, he needs a good confession as to his unChristian like behavior. He's going to argue canons and proecss and makes threats this morning, all to hide the fact that's he's not a good person in the simple Christian sense.
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 06:28
We, in Alaska are very isolated. Most of us did not know that Ms. Black had departed. So please forgive us for our ignorance. And since you have stated that Bishop Nikolai refused any priest to do her funeral. Do you expect any our our priests to be sacrifice for your self satisfaction. It is only in unity that the priests have come forward with what is happening in Alaska. And for doing so, they are suffering more than in the past. I commend the Alaskan Priests for standing up to Bishop Nikolai for what is right. Because the TRUTH has finally come out what has been said for past 7 years. Now in the passing of Bishop Gregory who served Alaska with dignity , we all should follow his example.
#4.2 Brother John on 2008-04-17 07:01
I would like to know why they refused. What was her sin that she would be denied a funeral in the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. That is sooo terrible. I have been a way from Kodiak for years but have fond memories of the church that I grew up in. This does not seem like the church I grew up in. Also why wasn't there an outcry by the priest against this elder?
#4.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 10:55
Is it not Lent? Some of the comments made on this site are simply ridiculous. It's easy to see why some of our hierarchs are bad shepherds of their flocks - they reflect all too well the nature of their flocks! How pathetic we are in these latter days! Our fathers of even a century ago would have wept if they could have seen how we would "repent" of our sins (individually and collectively) during this Great Fast.
As for Mr. Causley's letter, a bishop is to be investigated and tried by his brother bishops. Have not the Fathers established this practice? And lets be realistic - who has a better "bird's eye view" of everything than our hierarchs? They can see everything involved, whereas we cannot. I still beleive that most of our hierarchs are good ones - let us pray to God regardless that we ALL repent and that order, peace, harmony, love, and trust are restored within our [Russian] Orthodox Metropolitanate of North America.
(Editor's note: Nice try, Phil. But we are the Orthodox Church in America; not the North American Metropolis of the (Russian) Orthodox Church. )
#5 Philip Hammond on 2008-04-17 05:10
What? Phil, the OCA has the problems it has because of the current hierarchs. It's a total mess. + Nicolai is a tyrant and should have never been consecrated. + Herman wasn't elected by the people, but pushed in by RSK & + Theodosius to protect them. + Dimitri needs to retire. + Job can't wait to retire. + Tikhon (of STOTS) is young and nieve. + Nikon will be OK in 5 years or so. + Seraphim is the only one who can really represent the OCA as a "REAL BISHOP" and surround himself with leaders to help him. Next, married bishops who are healthy citizens!
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 08:00
Did anyone read the Kodiak Daily News? Nikolai challenged Herman and won. He is attending the synod meeting on Thursday!
#6 anonymous on 2008-04-17 08:14
The letter from Deacon John Zarras is certainly by far the best statement from anyone in the OCA regarding the scandals of that that have affected the church, at least in my opinion.
It needs no picking apart.
Deacon Zarras needs no proof that the structures of the church are not working. RSK proved it for us. Nikolai and his failures and the failures of the administration towards Nikolai himself prove it for us. Nikolai needed a severe behavioral warning years ago in the Black affair, which he now appears to be lying about rather than taking ownership. He glosses over what Ms. Black details well in their respective recollections of what occurred. Even if he is removed today, our governance failed both him and Ms. Black in not addressing this years ago.
I hope that Deacon Zarras is held in esteem by all of us for his perspectives and especially objectivity. He is extremely objective in his letter and in fact removes people from his analysis of the problem. This is most wise.
I encourage everyone to erase the people from the picture and then repaint it using the guidance from people like Deacon Zarras.
Thank you Deacon Zarras for doing a much better job than me at spelling out the facts that our governance failed, at least in implementation. I pray you are able to help change it.
No small church would have allowed things to happen the way the national church has and I hope a small church model can be translated to the national church in some ways if it would help.
#7 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-17 08:22
I have one question about the very fine letter of support for Archbishop Job: is there a reason it is addressed to Metropolitan Herman and not to the entire Holy Synod?
#8 Valentine on 2008-04-17 08:44
Not sure where to put this, so I'll just put it here. I know many of you read my articles for the lastest information of the situation here in Alaksa. Arriving here Kodiak in december I was thrown in the middle of the situation and have had to lean as I go about the OCA.It is often confusing at times and yesterday in my article I showed just how much I still need to learn with regards to the OCA.
I am issuing a correction in today's paper and in the next article I write I'll also mention the mistake. I am embarrassed and upset with myself for this rooky mistake. Here is the correction that will appear in today's paper.
In yesterdays article, Nikolai heads to synod meeting where officials will decide fate, there was a factual error.
The story stated that Bishop Tikon, the bishop that flew to Alaska to investigate allegations of abuse, wrote a letter of support to Bishop Nikolai Soraich and criticized Orthodox church leader Metropolitan Herman, indicating which way he would vote in todayís Holy Synod of Bishops meeting today. There are at least two Bishop Tikonís in the Orthodox Church in America. Bishop Tikon Mollard, current bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania was the investigating bishop sent to Alaska.
Writing the letter of support was retired Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald. Therefore, allegations of a fix were also false.
This is the correction I've writen, but it may come out differently after the editors have their way with it.
I have received a lot of e-mails as you can imagine and thankfully, all have been nice in pointing out my error, but I would not have been upset if they had all called me stupid, becuase that is about how I feel.
I will strive to be more accurate in my reporting and will continue to try and give you and everyone else the most balanced and fair reporting I can.
Reporter, Kodiak Daily Mirror
#9 Ralph Gibbs on 2008-04-17 09:40
I read the Burholt letter with some degree of caution and found it somewhat contradictory to the letter from Zarras.
Where Dn Zarras says the founders plans have not been followed, Burholt sort of minimizes rules and procedures and defaults to hierarchy. I believe he, to some degree, suggests we should keep the status quo.
When someone like Lydia Black is kicked out of her home and not even given an Orthodox funeral, isn't there a system of rules in place?
The answer is either a clear NO, or that the rules weren't followed, or the rules established could not be implemented or followed. No matter how you slice it, the rules didn't work.
Compare an Orthodox funeral to a corporation's stock option plan. It's a little bizarre as comparisons go, but bear with me.
If the corporation promised a stock option plan to someone and then never followed through, legal action is taken, and the corporation would be penalized unmercifully by the court and at great expense. This is what stops the corporation from this behavior.
When our church didn't give Ms. Black reasonable care (continued lodging) even when she disobeyed the Bishop's work request late at 10pm at nite, and didn't allow her funeral served by an OCA parish, what is the recourse? Nearly nothing. Perhaps, several years later, today in fact, that Bishop will get a deserved removal. I believe the actions of the church are DAMN late for both villian and victim. In this case, the villian deserved immediate reprimand, not a 3 year later removal and the victim deserved an immediate change of plans (both times).
Unless we expect the next several hundred Bishops to be sinless; something must change.
From Burholt's letter, "The challenge for the OCA must be to restore trust. Beyond that will lie the task of improving administration without falling into a mere corporate ethic, or into a kind of papal style of centralised government--both of which are foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology and to the mystical meaning of hierarchy"
Metropolitan Herman made all the administrative positions report to him as a change from the RSK days. This is centralization, but Burholt didn't identify this issue. This change bothers me greatly for the very reasons he highlighted.
That hierarchy should have a mystical meaning is not understood, at least by this layperson. The only mystery for me is how someone from Lydia Black's family didn't punch Nikolai in the nose at least twice.
I'd rather not end my commentary on clocking a Bishop. In fact, I'd rather never think it. Somehow, the rules must minimize the chances that it ever happen. These aren't heady, bureaucratic rules we are talking about. These are rules that stop bad, in fact, terrible behavior.
If we think back to the Apostles, of whom our Bishops are supposedly supposed to be following, certainly, some of them were better than others. But how many of them would have kept their followers if they were bad?
Why would the other Apostles be needed for this decision? At the time of Christ, no internet or phones were available. No planes either.
The followers already decided an Apostle was bad when they stopped following.
Any Diocesan Assembly should be able to either remove or at a minimum request the removal of their Bishop. This doesn't manage immediate problems, though. There should be a way to handle immediate problems like funeral decisions.
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-17 10:33
Is Zarras for real? To continue with a man who has been leading for the past 30 years is simply outrageous!
#11 MP on 2008-04-17 13:30
I see on the OCA site Nicoali has agreeded to take a leave of absence...Nothing resolved untill May?
I assume this is best with holy week fast approaching...
#12 Anoymous on 2008-04-17 13:56
OCA Holy Synod issues statements after April 17, 2008, meeting
Article posted: 4/17/2008 4:33 PM
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, on April 17, 2008, has issued the following statements.
"His Grace, Nikolai, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage, and Alaska, after having heard the report of His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, and His Grace, Bishop Tikhon; and after the deliberations of the Holy Synod of Bishops, has agreed to take a voluntary leave-of-absence, to be reviewed at the May 2008 Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops.
"His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman takes the responsibility of Administrator of the Diocese of Alaska, effective April 17, 2008.
"His Grace, Bishop Benjamin is named to assist Metropolitan Herman in the administration of the Diocese of Alaska.
"The Holy Synod received and approved the following recommendations of the Metropolitan Council, made at their meeting of March 31 - April 2, 2008:
Archpriest Eric Tosi was blessed to be the Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America.
Attorney Thaddeus Wojcik was blessed to be the General Legal Counsel of the Orthodox Church in America.
The Holy Synod blessed the formation of a standing Metropolitan Council Legal Committee, consisting of Gregory Nescott, Sergei Givotovsky and Angela Parks.
"The recommendation of the Metropolitan Council (concerning certain legal matters regarding the former Chancellor, Robert S. Kondratick) was tabled until the next Holy Synod Meeting, scheduled for May 13 -15, 2008."
#13 Anonymous on 2008-04-17 14:29
With the self appointment of Herman to be administrator of Alaska, reminds me of a cliche of the, fox guarding the the hen house. What a joke!!
Watching the POPE on TV reaffirmed me that HE is truly a CHRISTIAN man. What a blessing to watch him scold priest and bishops for the sex scandle. He then went and apologized to some of the victims and their families.
Watching the POPE is a breath of fresh air.
St. James - Brother of the Lord.
Kansas City, MO
E - email@example.com
Thank God for having guided the Holy Synod to take the appropriate action regarding +Nikolai.
Thanks God also for having giving us a sufficient number of superb leaders in the clergy and laity so that we may hope for a truly Orthodox Christian Church in North America.
I have read and reread Deacon Zarras' observations and proposals; they are wise and point to the way forward. I pray that the Lord will assist servant leaders such as +Job, Nikon and Seraphim; the team now in place in the central administration; the MC members; local leaders, such as those in Ansonia and Bethesda; and Mark and the many contributors to this web site. All capable individuals who more than anything else love the Lord and His Church. May God grant them many years!
#15 Carl on 2008-04-17 19:12
An unbiased reading of Church History will disabuse people of the holier-than-thou notion that the activities and critical comments at OCANEWS.ORG are somehow not "Orthodox" or not "Christian" or "not proper for Lent."
#16 CH on 2008-04-17 19:28
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